SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — People who lost their homes in the North Bay wildfires have a lot of rebuilding work ahead of them.
Many may choose to let the government clean up the ash and debris. But then what? Does everyone hire a different architect? A different contractor?
One woman has another idea: to rebuild homes all together, like a subdivision.
Herb and Janet Percy lost their home in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park.
Janet Percy said, “It’s just really overwhelming, it’s like where do you start? We still haven’t processed it, even that we have lost our house.”
Which is why Julia Donoho and the American Institute of Architects have floated a possible solution.
She wants to rebuild neighborhoods like Coffey Park like you would a big development, and she wants to do it fast.
Donoho who started the American Institute of Architects’ Firestorm Recovery Committee said, “The most important thing is to give people hope or they will leave. So we are in a race to keep people from that breaking point. We want our whole neighborhoods back.”
So, she is working with the Northern California Builders’ Alliance to create a large-scale, neighborhood-wide development project using local builders and contractors.
“By using a developer and what’s called process or phase construction, you can take an entire block and lay all the slabs at once, then the framing at once, then … the roofing all at once. Until at the end of it all, you have an entire neighborhood of move-in ready homes,” Donoho said. “If we do it this way, we can do it in two years. If we do it everyone by themselves, it’s going to take 20.”
And those 20 years would be a permanent construction zone with the sights, sounds and disruptions that accompany it.
Julia says her way would cost $500 million.
She’s already got half of that lined up and for people like the Percy’s, it just might be worth it.
Herb Percy said, “We got a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this house and your don’t want to give up on 45 years of your past. We want something to pass along to the kids.”